Lister & Bruce: A Shopify Journey

In late 2018 Lister & Bruce approached Black Lab Digital for support with their Shopify store. Helen and Claire co-founded Lister & Bruce, they create beautiful organic cotton children’s pyjamas and baby sleepsuits based on their own unique designs. They had taken their website build as far as they could and realised that they needed help in getting the site to the finished product. A year and a half on we caught up with Helen Brimacombe to discover why she elected to use Shopify and as a start-up how she found the process of creating a store.

How did you hear about Shopify?

Lister & Bruce was a completely new venture for me, learning everything from product manufacturing processes to website building. I started researching how to sell online; being a start-up, I was mindful that I didn’t want to go into a custom build that I knew would be costly. I wanted a system that was simple and easy to use, allowing me to set it up without outside help. I’d heard of Shopify via conversations in my previous role but never actually taken too much notice of it, however, it was a familiar name when I started my research, I did also look at Wix and WordPress. After much research, Shopify felt like a good place to start as a novice.

Why did you decide to use Shopify over other e-commerce platforms?

After speaking with ex-colleagues, they recommended Shopify and based on my research; I felt like it was the right choice. I liked the fact that the platform managed all the intricate parts of setting up a store; for example sending out the sales notifications, uploading products, setting up payment gateways were all straight forward to do, all managed via a friendly and simple to use CMS. I was also keen on the fact that I could install themes from their store, play around with them and find one that fitted our brand. This flexibility was essential for me, as an ex-marketeer, I wanted to be sure that I was selecting the right UX and layout, one that suited the style we wanted to represent our brand. Additionally, the reviews I read online reassured me that this was the right place to start, given that the setup costs were relatively minimal; there was a limited risk to our new business. Additionally, the fact I didn’t have to manage anything too technical was a real bonus.

How did you find the setup process, and did you need professional support? 

As mentioned, I was a novice when it came to building a website, I’ve worked across projects with web builds but never at the coalface. The initial set up was great, I got the bones of the set up done, but I had such a clear vision of what I wanted I knew I probably would need to lean on some technical support to get to the finished product.

If you did need more support, why?

Primarily, had I wanted just to populate a template I could have (eventually) got the shop up and running, but I had specific elements and styles in mind. Additionally, I was learning the platform from scratch, so as you’d expect, things were taking me longer. I contacted Black Lab Digital to see if they could help me get to where I wanted to be and also accelerate the build process. They’ve obviously done this many times before, and they worked closely with me making the adjustments I wanted. Some I had no idea how to do, some I could have worked it out, but the trade-off in climbing the learning curve versus all the other jobs needed for a start-up meant that to commit the time just wasn’t feasible. While you can do a lot yourself with Shopify, I’d certainly recommend getting professional support. Not only did the site get completed far quicker, but I also picked up lots of hints and tips about running the site both technically and managing customers.

It’s worth mentioning that I’d advise anyone starting their journey to make sure they understand how the system works as ultimately you’ll be driving the store forward.

Once live, how did you find managing the store? Was it easy or hard?

Day to day managing sales, adding blogs, adjusting images is straight-forward, something we do in-house. However, once I started trading, I realised I needed more support to help move elements around and add new features; this required more technical support. I’ve realised that this is a trade-off when working with a platform like Shopify. To keep things simple in some areas, it locks you out of others, using a template meant that to add custom elements required development support.

What results have you seen through your online store?

Sales have been good; there have been zero issues with things not working on the website. Feedback has been that the site is easy to use and without any bugs. We don’t have to worry about hosting or security, and with Black Lab on-hand, we can always pick up the phone if we have a query.

If you started again, what lessons would you implement from your initial experience?

I’d look further on in the journey of the site, look at scalability, the site is adaptable to house new collections, so we’re pleased we picked Shopify. However, at the start of the process, we were too centred on our single range, meaning that we had to carry out a bit of extra work to adjust elements to facilitate new product categories being added.


We also probably focussed too much on the website, speaking with Black Lab it became clear early on that we needed to consider other marketing solutions such as Google Shopping, Google Ads and promoted social content. I’d also ensure that things such as basic SEO were sorted, working with Black Lab did helped pick up and resolve this, which again the Shopify system made adjusting these essential elements simple. Had I not worked with Black Lab, I may have continued to make these simple errors that in the long run, would have cost me time and sales.

Black Lab Digital would like to say a big thank you to Helen Brimacombe for taking the time out to discuss their Shopify experience. If you’d like to find out more about Lister & Bruce, you can find them in the following areas:

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